Thursday, August 31, 2006

From A to ...

OK, so it may not sound like a glamorous way to start the day, but Tony and Becky (pictured) discovered that you can't beat a traditional London cafe first thing in the morning when they arrived early for a training workshop yesterday morning.

If you're ever on Brixton Road just round the corner from the Oval, check out the Apollo Cafe for mugs of hot strong tea, and a breakfast menu that you'd struggle to beat anywhere - eggs, bacon, hash browns, hot toast... all freshly made and really good quality (and value for money too!)

The Apollo Cafe was spotless with friendly service as well as great food - what more could you ask for!

By the way, the workshop went well too! - for great training, as well as recommendations for breakfast!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Claire's last day

Today is a sad day in the charitytraining office as we wave farewell to Claire who starts her amazing trip to Australia via Equador and The Galapagos Islands.

We wish her all the best for the future and look forward to hearing about her adventures during the months ahead.

The picture shows Claire getting a lift from Liam on his motorbike (not to the airport, just down the road!)

Take care, Claire and thanks for everything. We'll miss you!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How to make it as a charity manager: Part 2 Why Do People Want To Work For A Charity?

The following extract is from the book, 'How to make it as a charity manager' by Anthony Gibbs published by Volsector.

There are many more reasons why someone may be drawn to getting a job with a charity rather than work in the private sector:

• It could appear to offer better career development opportunities and in fact depending on your personal ambitions and skills this may well be the case. My own experience is that with a good commercial background you can do well for yourself in the voluntary sector – providing you accept the need to make allowances for the differences and don’t expect too much too soon.

• You may agree with the philosophy or aims of the charity. After all, it’s not got quite the same appeal to find empathy with a widget manufacturer.

• Perhaps you used to work as a volunteer with the charity and are keen to dedicate your career to the same organisation.

• Equally, either you, a friend or a relative was, could be, or may have been a beneficiary of the charity which you would like to work for.

• Maybe you regard working for a charity as a cushy number? Perhaps getting a job in the voluntary sector seems a better bet than a real job? If this is what appeals to you about working for a charity, for what it’s worth please don't delude yourself - you'll probably work hard for a charity than just about anywhere else!

What sort of people will you find already working for a charity? I’d group them as follows:

1. The Obsessives

These are the people for whom working for a charity is more than just a job. It’s a crusade, a deeply held belief which manifests itself as much more than mere enthusiasm. In some cases these people can take intensity to new extremes and there are some in every charity. Those who passionately extol the underlying aims of the charity at every opportunity and defend its values and principles at all costs against all–comers. There won’t be many of them but you’ll spot them instantly in presentations or meetings as these are the ones who will always expect everyone else to live breath and sleep the work of the charity just as they do and inevitably have little conversation other than the work of the charity.

It’s always worth having someone like this on your side but they can be wearing. You’ll know the type, they’ll always want to start a conversation just when you’re about to go home, or suggest that you join them for some quality time together on a Saturday morning or one evening. Well–intentioned but difficult to shake off if they sense you may be a potential convert to the cause.

2. The Mean-Wells

The Mean Wells are those who genuinely believe in the work of the organisation but may not appear to possess the same drive and zeal as the Obsessives. The Mean Wells can however be relied on to give you support when you need it and can often provide you with valuable background about the charity you are working for.

3. I know what it’s like

Easy to confuse with the obsessives, there are those who work for charities who have a vested interest. It may well be that this individual suffers from or knows someone who suffers from the particular illness or disability which the charity is concerned with, or maybe has a close personal link with the aims or values of the charity in question.

The problem with this type of person is that they will often try and persuade you that their own views and opinions are shared by all the beneficiaries of your charity who may not have the same inside track. Be careful. These people can create a false impression just to suit their own ends sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

It’s always worth remembering that if your charity meets the needs of say a hundred thousand people but ten of them work for your charity, don’t be swayed by the minority view.

4. The Jobsworths

This might come as a shock to you – it did me, but there are people working for charities who regard it as a cushy number, far better than having to work for a living.

Jobsworths include those who love having a report to write as they can make that fill their time for weeks on end, or even better be part of a project team with lots of meetings to go to. The common denominator though will be the precision with which start and finish times are observed and references to job descriptions when you start asking them to do that little bit extra.

If you decide to work for a charity, you can make a difference and help wheedle out the Jobsworths – personally I maintain that a charity most of all can least afford passengers. It’s not always a popular view but it depends on your own outlook. Let’s face it, if you’re a Jobsworth yourself you probably wouldn’t be reading this book, would you?

5. What about overtime?

What about it, I hear you say. Well, another surprise to me was to discover that many charities pay staff overtime and that the availability of this extra income does attract some people to work for some voluntary organisations.

This was a really strange concept to me in that I genuinely believed that no one working for a charity would ever be a clockwatcher and that if a job needed completing out of normal working hours it would just get done. Especially when you consider that many of those same organisations work with volunteers who give their time up without any payment at all. How wrong I was.

You could find that depending on the salary grade or job title that some staff in your charity are paid at agreed overtime rates for working unsocial hours or beyond the normal working day.
The difficulties arise when you find yourself managing staff who base their outgoings on regular overtime payments as though overtime is an accepted part of their remuneration.

My view is that the question of whether or not overtime is required should be a management decision and not based on custom and practice.

Inevitably you may find that overtime is acknowledged in a charity – it may be that time off in lieu (often known as TOIL) is given instead of additional monetary payment. Either way, it’s a good question to ask at a job interview with a charity and to find out just what, if any, overtime practices are in place as they could have been an influence in attracting some of your colleagues – who may be some of the people you could find yourself managing one day.

6. The Career Charity Workers

Now this surprised me. You will encounter career charity workers who get on a fast personal development track with one charity and then move on to another and then another. You may be one yourself, and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with it, just as long as you remember that before moving on it’s just as important to make sure that what you leave behind does not suffer from your departure.

If for example you’re working in the private sector and having gained some skills or expertise working for one company you may well go and work for a competitor and in turn take some customers and business with you, or even potentially cause some damage to your previous employers. Working for charities is not like that, but if you leave one charity to go and work for one doing similar work you may inadvertently leave a vacuum behind which for some small charities could be potentially more harmful than you imagine.

If you’re a career charity worker it’s worth remembering that others rely on you – perhaps more than you think.

7. It’s just a job

Thankfully the majority of people you’ll come across are just doing a job. It doesn’t matter to them whether it’s a charity or a plc, they just get on with their job. Increasingly the perceptions about working for a charity are regarded as the same as working anywhere else. The only thing to bear in mind here is that generally speaking charities don’t pay as well as the private sector and so if you need the money and have the choice the same job will pay more in the commercial world than the voluntary sector.

Make it as a manager # 2

People are attracted to the voluntary sector for many more reasons than you might imagine. As a manager this will stretch your people management skills as you can’t necessarily apply the same techniques to all your staff as you would perhaps do in the private sector. It will help you be a better manager in the voluntary sector if you can find out what appealed to the staff working for you in the first place.

What they also don’t tell you about working for a charity is that you should perhaps take some time to ask yourself what appeals to you about working in the voluntary sector. Whether you’re a student or working for a commercial organisation, there’s a very good chance that you will be asked that question at a job interview.

“How to make it as a charity manager’ First published in Great Britain in 2004 by Volsector © Anthony Gibbs 2003 ‘How to make it as a charity manager’ by Anthony Gibbs is based on the content of the web site, ‘What they don’t tell you about working for a charity’ © 1999 Anthony Gibbs The right of Anthony Gibbs to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988. British Library cataloguing in publication data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0-9546657-0-8 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.

Friday, August 18, 2006

State funding puts charities' independence at risk

State funding for charities has outstripped public donations through traditional fundraising methods and is threatening their independence, according to a report from the Centre for Policy Studies.

While donations from the public grew by 7% in the three years to 2004, government funding over the same period increased by 38%.

For larger charities, the document says, the state is now the “most important paymaster”.

The report, Charity: The spectre of over-regulation and state dependency, says the independence of charities is being put at risk by the profile of their funding streams, and criticises charities for the way they spend their money.

It attacks large charities for paying an average salary of £83,000 to the sector’s most senior executives and criticises increased spending on fundraising. It deems the function of the Charity Commission “confused”, being both a regulator and an advisor to the charity sector, and calls on the Commission to relinquish its advisory role.

It recommends that where a charity is delivering a public service, the direct financial link between the state and charity should be broken wherever possible. Small charities with high levels of voluntary donations should be subject to a lighter touch regulatory process, and the Commission should be accountable to Parliament and not the Crown.

Source: Charity Times 10th August 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How to make it as a charity manager: Part 1 What Is A Charity?

The following extract is from the book, 'How to make it as a charity manager' by Anthony Gibbs published by Volsector.

According to the Charity Commission, there are in the region of 187,000 charities on their Register. Of these, with approximately 27,000 subsidiaries or branches of other charities, this means that there are about 160,000 “main” charities on the Register. This figure has remained reasonably static since 1998.

The Charity Commission Register showed in March 2003 that the total annual income of all registered charities was in the region of £30 billion.

So if you’re working in the private sector at the moment and thought that the voluntary sector was just a small cottage industry – think again!

However, when this income is broken down by individual charities it turns out that many are very small organisations indeed, and that the financial wealth of registered charities, measured by their annual income, is concentrated in just a few very large charities which puts some of them on a par with major plc’s.

Did you know that:

• In 1998 approximately 70% of registered charities had an income of £10,000 or less each year. They represented almost three quarters of all registered charities but between them had less than 2% of the total annual income recorded on the Charity Commission register. By 2005, the number of charities in this category had fallen to 58%.
• In 1998, around 5% of charities between them received over 85% of the total annual income recorded. By 2003, the same overall percentage income was being shared by only 2.5% (4,033 organisations) with just 440 charities attracting 46% of total annual income across the sector.

In the context of this book (How to make it as a charity manager) a charity is any not–for–profit organisation which enjoys charitable status in the United Kingdom as defined by and regulated by The Charity Commission. In reality there are many different types and size of charity carrying out all sorts of activities and providing services throughout society. Some UK based charities work exclusively in this country, others both at home and/or abroad; smaller organisations may just work on a local or regional basis.

Some of the larger charities in the UK are as complex in their structure and range of activities as major plc’s in public ownership; others are on a par with the smallest company in the private sector.

Charities can be campaigning organisations; provide direct services or products; be information or care providers; operate educational, health or welfare establishments; offer arts and leisure opportunities; have separate associated trading companies to complement fundraising in securing income; or be a combination of all these and more disciplines.

Charities are collectively known as the voluntary sector (or Third Sector) alongside the Private Sector (commercial organisations) and the Public Sector (local authorities, government departments, police and so on).

One thing is for sure: many charities are now the only source of many products and services which beneficiaries are unable to obtain anywhere else.

Provided that those organisations can continue to secure funding to maintain those products and services the voluntary sector is here to stay which means that there will continue to be a need for staff.

In a random survey during 1998 of 1850 display advertisements in the Situations Vacant section of several quality newspapers the breakdown of jobs on offer was as follows:
• 21% of jobs advertised were in the voluntary sector (79% of the charities advertising referred to their Equal Opportunities policies)
• 58% in the private sector (less than 1% mentioned Equal Opportunities)
• 10% in the public sector (every advertisement included a reference to Equal Opportunities)
• 11% were agencies (none of them made any reference to Equal Opportunities)
Make it as a manager # 1

As a charity manager in UK you are working in a sector with total annual income in the region of £30 billion. It’s a massive industry and needs professional and competent managers just like any other.

A relatively small number of charities would be regarded on a par with major blue chip plc’s in revenue terms.

Charities are involved in all sorts of activities and need people with all sorts of skills and experience, probably people just like you to work for them.

“How to make it as a charity manager’
First published in Great Britain in 2004 by Volsector
© Anthony Gibbs 2003

‘How to make it as a charity manager’ by Anthony Gibbs is based on the content of the web site, ‘What they don’t tell you about working for a charity’ © 1999 Anthony Gibbs

The right of Anthony Gibbs to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.

British Library cataloguing in publication data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0-9546657-0-8

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.

Saturday, August 12, 2006 launch e-charity blog

... or, a blog within a blog! OK, you could ask, 'Why?', but at we believe that the use of the internet by charities is so important that we have set up a new blog called 'e-charity' where we can cover internet specific issues and opportunities.

To have your say about e-charity, go to now!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Volunteers motivated by altruism not job prospects

Volunteers are motivated by their ability to make a difference, not by the potential for career development, according to the Economic and Social Research Council.

Although volunteers may describe their occupation as work, a study from the ESRC has concluded the government understanding of volunteering as a way to reconnect people with the labour market was “too narrow”.

The study, carried out by academics from Newcastle University and Nottingham Trent University, found ‘getting on’ in a career was the least common motivation for engaging in volunteering.

Most volunteers in fact took up their work because they wanted to help those within their own community, offer help to those in a less fortunate position, or because they felt it was a way to help themselves, such as dealing with bereavement or coping with the shift into retirement. The study found that volunteering plays a valuable role in developing social capital within communities; it enhances levels of active citizenship and builds community spirit and a sense of belonging. It also improves self-confidence and provides a structure for people’s lives.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How many different types of charities are there?

We're grateful to for this breakdown which is featured in their current newsletter, under 'Your Charity Questions Answered'

There seem to be many different types of charitable purpose and so how are charities classified? The table below shows how many charities list themselves under each Charity Commission classification term. Charities may chose to list more than one of these terms to describe their purposes and some charities may choose to not list any.

Education/Training 76,242
General Charitable Purposes 41,709
Sport/recreation 28,628
Arts/culture 24,900
Relief of Poverty 24,482
Religious activities 23,795
Medical/Health/Sickness 21,727
Disability 18,830
Economic/Community development/Employment 16,964
Environment/Conservation/Heritage 16,495
Overseas aid/Famine relief 8,341
Accommodation/Housing 8,270
Animals 3,233


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How to start thinking about quality in your organisation

A lot has been written about quality management issues in the voluntary sector, and it can be difficult just knowing where to start. That’s why we have produced a new training resource pack ‘An introduction to quality management in the voluntary sector’ that will be of practical value to small or medium sized charities as well as voluntary and community groups.

This is what is included in the pack –

a). 70 page + workbook ‘Quality Management in the Voluntary Sector’ including Introduction to Total Quality Management; Management of quality; Systematic approaches to quality in the voluntary sector; Managing Quality audit.

b). DVD of extracts from one of our BTEC quality management workshopsCopies of the Powerpoint presentation used in the BTEC quality management workshop as well as a Word version of the workbook.

c). Activity sheet for you to use to start planning how to get thinking about quality in your organisation.

‘An introduction to quality management in the voluntary sector’ training resource pack is available exclusively from Price: £30.00 + VAT (£35.25) including post and packing. For details

Tops for training

The Third Sector Fundraising Guide for 2006 lists just four of what they describe as "some of the best training courses currently available for new recruits or middle managers".

In addition to the Institute of Fundraising's Introduction to Fundraising and their Certificate in Fundraising Management courses, only the Directory of Social Change and are listed. DSC's Fundraising Programme is included as well as our own BTEC Professional Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management.

For more information about the BTEC Professional Certificate contact on 01778 344113